The Korean Social Democratic Party is a political party in North Korea. It is a actually a governing party as part of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland.
How does the North Korean Government work?
North Korea has elections to the Supreme Peoples Peoples Assembly for its 687 members.
These though are single candidate districts, with all 687 going to members of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland. These though are predetermined.
In the 2019 elections the Korean Social Democratic Party managed to get the second highest allocation of seats receiving 50 seats, as opposed to the 600 for the Workers Party of Korea. This makes them the second most important political party in North Korea.
History of the Korean Social Democratic Party
Founded in 1946 by Cho Man-sik it was surgically intended to espouse Social Democratic views. It was popular among Christian businessmen, as well as well off well off workers.
As things started to move in a more Communistic direction there was some infiltration into the party, which at its peak had 500,000 members.
By the time of the first congress, Cho Man-sik had been arrested by Soviet forces and the party began to take a more revolutionary route. The party would then join the North Korean Fatherland United Democrats Front , after which it has largely been seen as subservient to the leading Workers Party of Korea.
Post-Korean War Political Representation
Since the Korean War the party has been a mainstay of the modern popular front that govern North Korea. It has gone from a low of 1 seat in 1972, to a high of 53 in 1998.
It currently has 50 seats in the Supreme Peoples Assembly of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.
Ideology of the Korean Social Democratic Party
Originally formed as a counterbalance to the communists, it was hoped it could be an effective coalition partner. Some might well argue that it has indeed achieved that through its role in government.
In 1981 it changed its name from the Korean Democratic Party to the Korean Social Democratic Party, with some feeling this was to attract western liberals and intellectuals.
In the 1990’s the KSDP published a periodical which was partly aimed at showing foreigners the multi-party element to the government of the DPRK.
As for modern ideology, as one North Korean put it to me “Our parties do not work against each other, but together like a family, with all striving for communism”.
International relations of the Korean Social Democratic Party
Previously the party held relations with two relatively pro-DPRK political parties in the Republic of Korea, namely the Democratic Labor Party and the Unified Progressive Party. Now it is aligned with the Progressive Party, a left-wing party that has just one sat in the ROK parliament.
International it had relations with the Japan Socialist Party, partly through Korean relations through Chongyron. The party which was also briefly called the Japanese Social Democratic Party ceased existence in 1996.
The party has no known links, or take on policies related to religion in North Korea, despite its original Christian origins.
The Modern Korean Social Democratic Party
The current Chairman of the Korean Social Democratic Party is Kim Ho Chol, its Vice-Chairman is Ri Kum Cho. Although these are important North Korean state positions, it is relatively unheard of for them to then move onto Workers Party of Korea roles.
The party is known to produce at least two periodicals, one in Korean and one in English called “KSDP says”. You will occasionally hear pro-regime and nationalistic statements put out by the party.
You can see all this yourself on one of our North Korea Tours.